The iconic photo of Marilyn with Ella Fitzgerald at the Tiffany Club in 1954 graces the cover of a 10-disc CD boxset from the Document Records label, Milestones of Jazz Legends: Female Jazz Singers. Sadly, Marilyn’s own recordings aren’t included, but with twenty albums by the likes of Ella, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee, Abbey Lincoln and more, it’s great value and a perfect introduction to the elegant sound of a bygone era.
I Wanna Be Loved, a 12-track vinyl selection of Marilyn’s finest recordings, is now available from French label Le Chant Du Monde via Amazon and other music stores. And for bargain hunters, a 55-track CD boxset has also been released, with a 30-page, fully illustrated booklet (the text is in French, of course.)
Hot on the heels of their Some Like it Hot reissue, the Soundtrack Factory label has released Alfred Newman’s music for The Seven Year Itch on CD, alongside his compositions for other Fox classics (including All About Eve) and including a 16-page booklet. You can listen to sample tracks on the Jazz Messengers website.
Robin De Raaff’s opera, Waiting For Miss Monroe, was staged at the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam in 2012, starring Laura Aikin as Marilyn. A CD recording is now available, with a 4-star review from The Guardian‘s Andrew Clements.
“In Waiting for Miss Monroe, De Raaff and his librettist Janine Brogt concentrate on the last few months of the star’s life in 1962, including her famous appearance at President Kennedy’s birthday party, the problems surrounding her final film, and her lonely death, when she is confronted by memories of her former self, Norma Jean, and rejected by all the men who formerly worshipped her. De Raaff and Brogt are emphatic that what they devised is not a biopic but a fictionalised work that attempts to explore Monroe’s inner world, as revealed in her conversations with a young woman, Eve, who arrives to take photographs of her, which are intercut with the film studio confrontations and the Kennedy party.
It all works convincingly enough up to a point. The text is sung in English and some of Raaff’s vocal writing, wide-ranging but fundamentally tonal, curiously echoes passages in the later work of Michael Tippett, The Ice Break especially, though Raaff’s orchestral writing is much more unbuttoned and eclectic. Yet the passages of melodrama, when the characters resort to spoken dialogue, somehow breaks the operatic spell; it’s as if the music is abdicating its expressive responsibilities in a work that otherwise doesn’t flinch from the having the most commonplace exchanges sung. The score is haunted by the ghosts of songs associated with Monroe, especially I Wanna Be Loved By You, though the references are never too explicit. It is an intelligent if not entirely successful attempt on a tempting but, perhaps in the end, a dramatically intractable subject.”
Diamondsis a new, 2-CD boxset from Not Now Music, featuring all the usual favourites and a few lesser-known tracks: ‘A Man Chases A Girl’, ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’, ‘I Found a Dream’, and ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’; plus the ‘Rachmaninov’ and ‘Chopsticks’ segments from The Seven Year Itch, the audio for Marilyn’s Royal Triton ad, and her Los Angeles and London press conferences from 1956. With colour photos and liner notes by Michael Heatley, this compilation is a cut above the rest.
Bombshell, the fictional Marilyn musical that is the subject of hit TV show Smash, is now available on CD and for download. And for fans of the show, Smash returns to US screens for a second season next week.
Marilyn Monroe: Collector, the latest compilation of Marilyn’s modest but stellar musical repertoire, is now available on CD or for download. Ludovic Hunter-Tilney reviews it in today’s Financial Times.
“Collector marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death with a straightforward compilation of her songs, from the sultry big band jazz of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ to her sweetly wistful torch-gospel routine on 1954’s ‘River of No Return.’
The best aspect of her vocals, as with her acting, was comic timing: ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’ is a swinging, playful take on the relationship between the sexes – which in real life of course she found tragically oppressive.”
The original soundtrack albums for Niagara and River of No Return have been released on a compilation CD by the Intrada label. Niagara includes The Starlighters’ version of ‘Kiss’, as requested by Marilyn in the movie. Marilyn’s own recordings do not appear on the CD, but these are already widely available.
The compilation was released in February in a limited collection of only 1000, and unfortunately, it has already sold out. However, used copies can be found on Ebay. Hopefully Intrada will consider a reissue?
“RIVER OF NO RETURN / NIAGARA
Label: Intrada Special Collection Volume 157
Date: 1954 / 1953
Time = 62:12
World premiere release of two soundtracks for classic 20th Century-Fox films starring Marilyn Monroe. RIVER OF NO RETURN is 1954 Otto Preminger river journey/adventure tale co-starring Robert Mitchum, Rory Calhoun. Rich, evocative score by veteran Fox composers Lionel Newman, Leigh Harline, Cyril J. Mockridge puts emphasis on action with raft rescues, Indian attacks, more. Presented in solid stereo from excellent condition master elements. Classic title song by Tennessee Ernie Ford appears as well. (Monroe vocals are controlled by another company and were not available for this CD.) NIAGARA is 1953 Henry Hathaway tale of murder set at famous falls, co-starring Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters. Sol Kaplan creates dark, lurid score for orchestra, emphasizing noir-ish climate. Presented in mono as recorded for film. Album produced by Nick Redman, informative liner notes by Julie Kirgo. Lionel Newman conducts. Intrada Special Collection release limited to 1000 copies! SOLD OUT!”